Erm, what actually is a blog?

A client asked me that question yesterday, after I had rambled on about digital marketing strategy for ages.

Blogs have become such a common part of marketing today that I had forgotten some people still don’t know what they are. So here’s a beginner’s guide.

The (ugly) word ‘blog’ is a contraction of the words web and log. That is, a log that is kept on the web.

A log is a diary or journal in reverse chronological order so the newest information is at the top and the oldest at the bottom. You might recognise the word from Star Trek e.g. ‘Captain’s log, star date 160116’.

Each entry in your blog is called a ‘blog post’, or simply ‘post’. As soon as you start ‘blogging’, you are a ‘blogger’.

So what are the advantages of having a blog?

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What you can learn about marketing from David Bowie

Bowie bandstand

Balloons on the Bowie bandstand (see below) yesterday, soon after the news broke.

Yesterday (and today), social media has been flooded with the news of David Bowie’s death. Even I added a Ziggy flash to my profile picture (see below). I’ve never done anything like that before.

Continual reinvention

I can’t say anything much about Bowie’s creativity – singing, acting, painting – that hasn’t already been said, so I won’t. Except to point out that he is famous for continually reinventing himself to stay ahead of the curve (or draw a new one).

Top tip: What can you change to be different from the rest?

Newsjacking

Bowie RIPNewsjacking means hijacking the news. I did it with my temporarily adapted profile pic. I’m doing it with this blog post.

As an aside, “Hi Jac!” is what my colleagues used to say when I walked into the office. They said “Hey, Rick!” to my assistant. Such fun.

Top tip: What’s topical that you can hijack to make relevant?

Community

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New year, new website?

FireworksMany people use the festive break to refresh their website. Here are some of the things you need to do, to make the sparks fly in the new year.

Analyse where you are today

Look at your Google Analytics (or other webstats) to see:

  • How many unique visitors your site already gets
  • What keywords they search to find you
  • Which page they initially land on
  • How long they stay
  • Which is the last page they look at

Even more importantly, establish how many enquiries, leads, sales, newsletter signups etc. you get from your current site.

This sets a benchmark that you can compare against when you launch your new site (be sure to measure using the same tools so you are comparing like with like).

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Why writing your own web copy could be a false economy

School

photo credit: Homework via photopin (license)

  • Have you got a website?
  • Has that website got Google analytics or other web stats on it?
  • Have you ever looked at those analytics?
  • Have you ever made a change to your web content as a result of your analytics?
  • When was the last time you updated your web copy?

Those are some of the questions I ask at the beginning of a website workshop.

There is usually some embarrassed laughter at question three, when people realise there is no point having analytics if you never look at them. I give out a prize after question five to the person who has updated their website most recently as a result of what their analytics show.

These days, many people have a Content Management System (CMS) website that they can update themselves. WordPress is by far the most popular CMS platform. According to W3Techs quoted on Wikipedia, it was used by more than 23.3% of the top 10 million websites by January 2015.

But, just because the technology exists to enable you to write your own web copy, it doesn’t mean you should.

Learning how to throw a sentence together at school doesn’t mean you can write effective, compelling web copy.

Admit it. You don’t know what you don’t know.

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